Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
A GOKWE family allegedly dumped the body of their relative at a neighbour’s homestead on Wednesday demanding 20 head of cattle before burial after a Boxing Day land boundary dispute turned fatal.
The body of Francis Mutsakirwa, 37, of Mutsakirwa Village, Headman Mashame under Chief Chireya in Gokwe North, was only buried yesterday after the family of the murder suspect, Edson Sibanda, 47, parted with 10 beasts and a goat, with promises to deliver the remaining cattle later.
Midlands provincial police spokesperson Inspector Joel Goko confirmed Mutsakirwa’s death on December 26 after he was struck by Sibanda.
He could not immediately comment on the compensation issue.
“I confirm the death of Francis Mutsakirwa on December 26. A villager Edson Sibanda has since been arrested in connection with his murder,” he said.
However, the victim’s neighbours told The Chronicle that on the fateful day, Mutsakirwa and Sibanda were in their fields when an argument over the boundary arose.
“In the heat of the moment, Sibanda struck Mutsakirwa on the forehead and he collapsed”.
They ferried him to Mashame clinic where his condition deteriorated before he was transferred to Nembudziya clinic where he was pronounced dead,” said Tinotenda Marange, a neighbour of Mutsakirwa.
He said Mutsakirwa’s body was taken for a post-mortem and was only brought back on January 13.
Marange said Mutsakirwa’s relatives took his body and dumped it at Sibanda’s homestead demanding 20 head of cattle as compensation for the loss of their son.
He said after dumping their relative’s body on January 13, Mutsakirwa’s family returned to their homestead. “Because of the hot temperatures, Mutsakirwa’s body quickly decomposed forcing the Sibandas to desert their homestead. They then went to headman Mashame to report the matter,” he said.
The Chronicle learnt that Mutsakirwa’s body stayed at the Sibanda homestead for 24 hours as both parties failed to reach consensus.
Marange said the police were called in but nothing materialised as the Mutsakirwa’s were adamant that they were only going to bury their relative after they were compensated.
He said yesterday, after the intervention of the police and traditional leaders in the village, the Sibandas released 10 head of cattle and a goat to facilitate the burial. “So the 10 head of cattle were in front while the scotch cart with Mutsakirwa’s body was following behind. He was finally buried,” said Marange.
Insp Goko appealed to members of the community to desist from engaging in unnecessary fights which he said were leading to loss of lives.
He said church elders, the police, and community leaders should be approached in case of misunderstandings to save life.